The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) and Steve Biko Academic Hospital, in Pretoria, says they have taken lessons from the chaotic situation, on Sunday, regarding COVID-19 vaccination. This is as a lot of healthcare workers descended on the hospital for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Steve Biko Academic Hospital was the only vaccination site that was functioning this weekend as the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital vaccination site was shut. Chaos ensued at the hospital as many healthcare workers arrived at the hospital for the COVID-19 vaccination.

Most of them were from private practices. The hospital had made preparations to vaccinate 286 General Practitioners who had booked on the system and were on the list.

South African Medical Research Council’s Professor Ameena Goga says Steve Biko Hospital did not anticipate such a turnout.

“We were opened from 8am to 4pm, so we had 900 healthcare workers descend on Steve Biko Hospital from 8 o’clock in the morning. We were really not anticipating that. We did not realise such a huge demand for vaccine  neither did we know that people will just descend on the hospital whereas we were expecting GPs to come as per appointments.”

The hospital says 1 200 people were vaccinated amid the chaos. The hospital’s Chief Executive Officer Dr. Mathabo Mathebula says they are working with other relevant stakeholders to ensure that such incidents are avoided in the future.

“So between us as the Department of Health and the private sector, we are finding ways of communication and also thinking about scheduling people so that they come in batches. They don’t flood the system as 900 people. The facility doesn’t have the capacity to handle such a big number and also to vaccinate. We ended up having planned for 900 people, we ended up vaccinating more than a thousand people.”

Meanwhile, the Gauteng Health Department has reassured healthcare workers in the province that none of them will be excluded from the national vaccination programme aimed at safeguarding the healthcare system in the province. “We reassure the healthcare workers in the province that none of them will be excluded from the national vaccination programme,” says Gauteng Health Department’s Head of Communication Motalatale Modiba.

Vaccination for healthcare workers in the public sector will continue during the week while private sector healthcare workers will be scheduled to be vaccinated over the weekend.